Estrogen and Skin
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- Shah, M.G. & Maibach, H.I. Am J Clin Dermatol (2001) 2: 143. doi:10.2165/00128071-200102030-00003
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As the population of postmenopausal women increases, interest in the effects of estrogen grows. The influence of estrogen on several body systems has been well-documented; however, one area that has not been explored is the effects of estrogen on skin. Estrogen appears to aid in the prevention of skin aging in several ways. This reproductive hormone prevents a decrease in skin collagen in postmenopausal women; topical and systemic estrogen therapy can increase the skin collagen content and therefore maintain skin thickness. In addition, estrogen maintains skin moisture by increasing acid mucopolysaccharides and hyaluronic acid in the skin and possibly maintaining stratum corneum barrier function. Sebum levels are higher in postmenopausal women receiving hormone replacement therapy. Skin wrinkling also may benefit from estrogen as a result of the effects of the hormone on the elastic fibers and collagen. Outside of its influence on skin aging, it has been suggested that estrogen increases cutaneous wound healing by regulating the levels of a cytokine. In fact, topical estrogen has been found to accelerate and improve wound healing in elderly men and women. The role of estrogen in scarring is unclear but recent studies indicate that the lack of estrogen or the addition of tamoxifen may improve the quality of scarring. Unlike skin aging, the role of endogenous and exogenous estrogen in melanoma has not been well established.